I was chatting to a friend the other day about current food trends in Adelaide. ‘Burgers and Banh Mi’, he explained, ‘they’re everywhere!”. He’s right (not that anyone is complaining). If I think about the last few times I’ve been out to dinner it’s been to hipster burger joints, and for lunch my choice is nearly always banh mi, or the slightly less carb-filled option, vermicelli salad.
I can’t get enough of the simple flavours of Vietnamese street food, they’re so fresh and healthy and quite easy to recreate yourself at home once you’ve got the basic formula down – fish sauce, lime, mint and chilli.
This recipe is by no means ‘authentic’ – I am told that such a dish would usually be made with pork mince, for example – but it was agreed that it was ‘pretty close’. Pretty close is close enough for me and kind of representative of how international flavours often evolve or even inspire new dishes altogether. This being said, pork mince would be equally delicious here, and I’ve been thinking about how I might incorporate tofu as well.
Once made, the patties will keep for a few days, they seem to taste even better the following day so this recipe will yield four generous servings that could easily stretch to six . I imagine you could also make them into delicious burgers if you’d like to go for gold and create the ultimate hipster Viet-burger combo.
The salad is a no-brainer, simply shred your veggies and combine with cool vermicelli noodles, dress and top with the patties. I tend to use my hands when combining the noodles and veg as I find I get a better mix.
One word on cooking the patties, you’ll note I add some stock to the pan after browning the meat. I’ve found that chicken mince tends to dry right out if you cook it without some moisture. By adding just enough stock to the pan you’ll be left with perfectly cooked (and seriously juicy) patties. I’ve suggested using stock but water works equally well if you’re caught short. Coconut water would also be great.
Don’t forget the Sriracha!
- 500g free-range chicken mince
- 1 lime
- 1.5 tbspn fish sauce
- 1.5 tspn brown sugar
- 2 tbspn sriracha (chilli sauce)
- 1 tspn ginger
- 1-2 tspn garlic
- 1 tspn salt
- 1 tspn freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely minced
- 1 tspn minced lemongrass
- ⅓ cup panko crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 tspn rice bran oil
- ½ cup stock (or water if preferred)
- 1.5 cups mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cucumber, shredded with a mandolin
- 1 carrot, shredded with a mandolin
- 1 cup coriander, roughly chopped
- 250g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet directions
- Cos lettuce leaves to serve, shredded.
- Make the dressing: combine the juice of the lime, 1 tspn fish sauce, ½ tspn sugar, 1 tbspn sriracha. Stir well and set aside to allow flavours to develop.
- In a large bowl add chicken mince, remaining fish sauce, brown sugar and sriracha.
- Add ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, half a cup of mint and mix well until all combined.
- Add the panko crumbs and egg and stir again to incorporate - mixture will be wet but you should be able to form loose balls/patties. If not add more panko a tbspn at a time.
- Grab a large, flat frypan and heat over a medium-high flame.
- Add the oil and heat.
- Grab about a tbspn full of batter in your hand and form loose burger/meatball shapes, dropping them into the hot pan as you go.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, until base starts to brown and then flip.
- Cook on the other side for a further 2-3 minutes and then add about ⅓ of a cup of stock to the pan and turn down the heat to medium-low.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip.
- Once the stock has cooked right down allow to brown up on either side.
- Remove from pan and keep warm.
- Combine carrot, cucumber, remaining mint and coriander in a bowl. Add a couple of generous handfuls of vermicelli noodles, a couple of spoonfuls of dressing and mix well.
- Add more noodles if you'd prefer.
- To serve:
- Layer with lettuce leaves, followed by a generous serving of the noodle salad.
- Top with 3-4 meat patties and drizzle a couple of spoonfuls of sauce over the top.
- Top with sriracha sauce for a serious chilli kick.